Jo’s #LoveSwimming Story

Swimming helped Jo Grayson to recovery after anxiety and severe panic attacks meant she had to take a break from her job as a teacher.

Jo, from Chesterfield, said: “When I first qualified as a teacher, I lived near a pool and started going swimming regularly as a good way of exercising. For me, it was a form of escape. However, as my work intensified I no longer had the time to go swimming.

“The increased workload escalated into anxiety and severe panic attacks which eventually meant I was signed off work. I didn’t realise how bad it had got when I was in the thick of it but, at my lowest point, it felt like I was wading through treacle.

“I went through 10 months of counselling and learnt a lot about myself during this time. Exercise played a massive part in my recovery and helped me readdress how I saw myself.

“When I couldn’t face leaving the house, I would make myself go swimming. Each time I went it felt like a little victory and being in the water made me feel calm and relaxed. When I left the pool, I felt motivated to do more.”

Jo has shared her story as part of the latest #LoveSwimming campaign, which aims to encourage women to embrace the mental wellbeing benefits of swimming.

She added: “You can’t physically see mental health so there’s a huge stigma around it and I was always worried that people would judge me. However, I look back at that period of my life as a positive experience – I’m proud I came out the other end and hope that sharing my experience will help others.”

Reduced symptoms

Jo’s story comes as new research showed that 1.4 million adults in Britain felt that swimming had significantly reduced their symptoms of anxiety or depression.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by Swim England, also showed that almost half a million (492,000) British adults with mental health conditions who swim say they have reduced the number of visits to a medical professional regarding their mental health and more than 490,000 people have reduced, or no longer take, medication for their mental health condition as a result of swimming.

#LoveSwimming ‘Escape’

The industry-wide #LoveSwimming ‘Escape’ campaign centres on a film showing the extremes of fast-paced modern life, and the impact it can have on mental health, in contrast with the unique environment offered by swimming.

We are encouraging people across the country to #LoveSwimming with us. Use Poolfinder to find a pool near you.